Before I joined speed dating events, I had somewhat negative thoughts about it. I mean, even my friends and the society do. We used to think that speed dating is (sorry guys, I hate to say this.) for losers, for those who couldn’t get a girlfriend and for those who couldn’t get laid. I was wrong.
My perception of speed dating dramatically changed when I tried it myself.
Two weeks ago, I got invited by one of the many speed dating event organizers in the country, Date Unlimited. I mean why not give it a try, right? I have this YOLO attitude in life and what that means is that I have adopted the idea that if you want to try something, then by all means try it at least once. If you ended up liking it (and it’s not bad for you) then what a blessing it is for discovering something new. And if you realized you don’t like it, then at least you could say that once in your life you have tried it.
Despite the storm, heavy rains and the mass flooding brought about by Habagat monsoon rains in the country, I rushed to Mets Bar and Grill (near Rockwell) on a cold, wet and Sunday night of August 18th. The dress code was a bit formal so I was wearing an office attire with a jacket and a black umbrella in hand. As I walked towards the entrance of the bar, I whispered to myself, “Expect the Unexpected.”.
As I opened the door, I was greeted by the two welcoming organizers, a couple, named Sam and Nicole at the registration area. They handed me a small pamphlet with the number 4 in it, a pencil, a name tag and an iced tea stub. The room was filled with club music, the lights were flashing everywhere and the counter of the bar had bartenders mixing up some drinks. I thought that only a few people would make it because of the rain, but to my surprise, the bar was full of people already and I was second to the last to arrive.
The way Mets bar was arranged that time was, there were fifteen round tables, each with a pair of chairs facing each other. Then while waiting for the speed dating program proper to begin, participants were asked to seat on the table which has the number corresponding to the one that was on the participant’s pamphlet. I was number 4 so I headed to table number 4 where a girl with curly hair was already sitting. It appears that the organizers gave us “default” dates for the night. As for me, my initial date on table #4 was a girl named Jane.
I introduced myself to Jane by shaking her hand and exchanging small jokes about how bad the weather is and how I got so wet in the rain. Afterwards, I started to look around the room to observe and to see the kind of people who go to speed dates. I wanted to expect the expected: that is, people who are socially-awkward and people who didn’t excel in the looks department (but excelled in somewhere else). But unexpectedly, much to my surprise and thrill, most of the people who joined the speed dating event that night looked very normal. They looked decent and professional and believe it or not, there were a lot of pretty girls. I almost could not believe what my eyes were seeing. Inside my mind, I had these thoughts:
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Are these girls really single?”
“Why the f*** are they single? Why are they in a speed dating event? They seem good-looking.”
“Maybe they want some fun or want to flirt.”
I have yet to find out the answers to those questions.
At exactly 8 PM, the speed dating program started. “This is going to be fun!”, I thought.
To get things warmed up, the 15 male participants and 15 female participants were all asked to stand and form a circle. Then each participant would say out loud their name, their occupation and what they are looking for in an ideal partner. Here are some responses I’ve heard from the females:
“I’m Jane, a credit analyst, and I’m looking for someone bubbly.”
“I’m Trisha, an accounts officer, and I’m looking for someone who is outgoing.”
“I’m Grace, a call center agent, and I’m looking for a guy who’s into music. “
“I’m Apple, a doctor, and I’d like a guy who is adventurous.”
And the funniest response I’ve heard that night:
“I’m Sarah, a banking officer, and I’m looking for someone like you…“
The whole bar laughed in chorus. Adele, is that you?. Then everyone was suddenly singing the line “never mind I’ll find someone like you“. How crazy is that? I had this feeling that Sarah hadn’t moved on from her break-up with her ex. But maybe that was just my hunch.
Then when the laughter faded, it was the guys’ turn. Here’s how it went:
“I’m Jayson, a manager,and I’m looking for someone sweet.”
“I’m Mike, a businessman, and I want someone who loves travelling.”
When my turn came, I almost couldn’t remember what I was about to say. I wasn’t serious about going on a speed date so I wasn’t prepared at all.
I suddenly blurted out:
“Hi, I’m Chris, a software engineer, and I’m looking for someone who is witty, likes travelling and loves music.”
I realized that I had just said a lot of requirements. Are my requirements that many?
After the warm up was done, we were asked to go back to our tables with our initial dates. I was back at table #4 with Jane. Then the organizers began explaining the usual mechanics. In summary the basic rules are:
- Each guy is allowed to seat on a table for only five minutes. In that five minutes, the guy and the girl would talk about anything and after the five minutes have lapsed, the bell will ring and the guy would have to move to the next table where another girl is seated. Exchanging of numbers during the five-minute conversation is not allowed.
- Inside the pamphlet that was given during the registration, you will put a check mark beside the name of the girl that you’d like to stay in touch with after the speed dating event. Here’s a tip: you should only put a check mark secretly once you leave the table and go to the next. You wouldn’t want the girl to find out if you marked her or not.
- After the speed dating event, the organizers will collect your pamphlets. Their job now is to find out who is your match. If a girl put a check mark beside your name in her pamphlet and similarly you marked her in your own pamphlet then that is considered a “match”. The organizers will email you the contact information of all your matches. So that means you can have more than one match.
But the dreaded question remains: Is it possible for you to have no match at all?
Sadly, yes. Although, it rarely happens, it DOES happen with a small probability of 5% according to Date Unlimited. And if you have no match bro, I’m sorry but you really need to work harder to improve your social skills and your physical appearance.
And so the speed dating began. Here is how it went for me and here are some of the girls I met who stood out in both good and not-so-good ways.
Naturally, the first girl I had to talk to was the girl seating in front of me at table 4, Jane, who was my initial date. From our conversations, I have learned that she is a credit analyst at Citibank. Apparently, she is into singing and much to my surprise she has a good voice. She sang me a few lines from Just Give Me A Reason by Pink and I was impressed. She is not exactly my type but I decided to put a check mark to her name on my pamphlet because I somewhat felt obligated to do so since she was my default date. At the end of the five minute window, the bell rang so I stood up and moved on to the next girl at table 5.
I was really excited to meet the girl at table number 5. After all, I’ve spotted her first thing when I arrived at Mets Bar. She’s my type. She has wavy hair, slim and has a cute set of incisors. I smiled and shook her hand while introducing myself.
“Hi, I’m Chris and you are?”
“I’m Trisha”, she said a little shyly.
“Hey Trisha. So do you work nearby?”, I asked.
“I work in Ortigas as an Accounts Officer. And you?”
“I work in Makati as a Software Engineer – you know doing some techie stuff.”
“Wow that’s nice. So what are you usually up to on weekends, Chris?”
“I like attending events. I’m a blogger so I usually cover some stories about lifestyle. I also love concerts. It’s too bad I missed Linkin Park!”
“Oh my God. Me too. I so hate the fact that I missed Linkin Park. I wish I could have seen it.”
“I know right. So how about you? What do you usually do on your free time?”
“I love going out with my female friends.”
“Oh really? So where do you usually go?”
“My friends and I usually go to parties. You see that girl at table 11?”, she said pointing at the back.
“That’s my friend Vicky. We usually go out on speed dating events like these.”
“Oh really? Good for you. It’s actually my first time so I’m excited about it.”, I said.
“Yes this should be fun.”
We haven’t finished talking but then the bell rang. I waved goodbye to Trisha then I started to think about whether I’ll put a check mark on her name or not. Yes, she is still my type and we have a common interest (i.e. concerts) but for some reason there is something odd about her that bugged me. There is a red flag. I couldn’t get over the fact that one of the things she said she liked to do is to go out on speed dating events like this with her friend, Vicky.You see, most of the people at the venue with us mentioned that it was their first time ever to join a speed dating event like this and then all of a sudden, we have this girl Trisha here who said that she goes to a lot of speed dating as a hobby? I think it’s quite questionable. Is she a flirt? Or is she desperate?
Anyway, I didn’t allow it to bother me much so I decided to put a check beside her name so that I could know her more in case we become a match and decide to meet in the future.
At table number 9, I met a really beautiful girl named Apple. Apple stands tall for a Filipina. My estimate is that she is a 5’8”. She has a fair and flawless skin and that night her hair was pony tailed.
During our dialog, I learned that she is a doctor who specializes in surgery. I almost fell off my seat when I heard how much of an overachiever she is. Putting her M.D. degree aside, I could actually say that I like her because apart from the fact that she is good looking, she is a very good conversationalist. We exchanged thoughts as if there was no tomorrow. The sad part is that she is way too older than me. She is 32. But guess what? I still put a check mark beside her name when the bell rang.
Tess has got to be the most boring person I’ve ever met at the event. The moment I shook her hand and sat on the table, I knew things were just not right. Tess is not a standout, but don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying she’s ugly. She looks just like an ordinary girl with a few quirks in her appearance. Her hair looks like Bart Simpson’s hair pointed downwards and she seems to be very quiet.
I found out that Tess is an accountant at a firm in Eastwood and that she is a home body. I tried conversing with her and connecting to her by talking more about myself but she gave me weird looks as if she is not understanding what I was saying. After about two minutes of talking, there was already dead air. All the talking stopped. Then with still three minutes remaining, I didn’t know how to handle it. It was the longest three minutes of my life. We didn’t have anything in common so what do we have to talk about? She didn’t have much to say either and she was acting really weird. Her voice was trembling when she speaks and my impression is that she feels nervous around people. I didn’t know if I should feel sorry for her or what but she was simply unbearable.
When the bell rang, I decided to not put a check mark on her name in my pamphlet.
I was all smiles when I got to Mai’s table. She has shoulder-length hair, a voluptuous build and has hooded eyelids. As I approached her and sat on the chair, she spoke first. She has quite a different English accent.
“Wow, cool hair you’ve got there. Nice highlights. My name is Mai.”, she said to me while shaking my hands.
“Thanks. I’m Chris.”, I said.
I felt comfortable speaking with her so I began to break down my sentences into mixed English and mixed Filipino.
“So do you work or nag-aaral ka pa?”, I asked her.
She then looked confused. “What did you say, Chris?”
“I’m asking: nag-aaral ka pa or nagwowork ka na?”
“Oh sorry Chris, I do not understand. I am not a Filipina. I’m Vietnamese.”
I was a bit surprised. I then said: “Oh sorry Mai. Really? You are from Vietnam? That’s cool. I thought you were a Filipina. So are still studying or working?”
“I’m working. I work here in the Philippines as an English-Vietnamese language translator.”, Mai said. She then continued, “How about you Chris?”.
“I’m a software engineer.You know, an IT guy”, I said.
“So what exactly does a software engineer do?”, she responded wondering.
I replied enthusiastically: “Well we build computerized accounting systems.”
“Impressive. Are you the next Steve Jobs? You’ve got to be a genius to do that.”, Mai said.
“Haha, no, not really. It’s just what I do for a living”, I said laughing. “So how long have you been in the Philippines?”
“I’ve been here for six years.”, she said.
“Wow that’s pretty much of a long time. And how do you find Philippines? Do you know a few Tagalog words?”, I asked.
“I’m still learning a few Tagalog words. I like it here. It’s more fun in the Philippines”, she said grinning.
Then she continued: “I like the city and I like the natural sceneries in your country. They are beautiful.”
“Yes it is. You know, I would also want to visit Vietnam when I get a chance. Is it nice there?”, I asked her.
“It is. You should go travel to Vietnam. There are plenty of…”
Just as our conversation was getting more lively, the bell rang. I wanted to know more about her and she wanted to know more about me as a Filipino guy. There is always something special about other nationalities – we tend to be more curious about them and their culture.
I wanted to stay in touch with Mai so I put a check mark next to her name in my pamphlet. I kind of hoped that she did the same.
Then afterwards, I moved on to tables 10 up to 15 and basically repeated every little thing I said about myself. I realized it is quite exhausting to stand up, shake hands with every girl in the room and repeat the same script over and over. But it was fun.
When everybody met everyone in the room, the organizers gave us all a small piece of paper. On that paper, the organizers instructed us to write down the name of the person in the speed dating event that we liked the most and indicate the reason why. After we’ve done that, the organizers collected our piece of paper and distributed them to the person to whom it was addressed to. Here is the one that I received from one of the girls:
Apparently, the ladies are really liking my Messed-up Footballer Hairstyle. It’s just too bad the girl had forgotten to write her name so I am clueless who gave me this compliment. But thanks.
48 hours after the speed dating event, I got so excited when I received an email from the event organizers. The email contained my list of matches, their pictures and their contact numbers. Want to know who my matches are? It is Jane, Trisha, Apple and Mai.
The burning question: To Join or Not to Join Speed Dating?
For a first speed dating experience, I would say that I really had a blast. If you are having thoughts about joining one, I suggest that you should, at least for experience. What’s good about speed dating is that all the participants are single and are actively seeking out relationships. And a plus factor would be the fact that the participants come from interesting backgrounds and are guaranteed to be working professionals who can afford to pay a thousand bucks for the speed dating entrance fee.
So as a man, do I think it is worth it? I’d say yes. I’m not necessarily saying that you’ll meet “the one” at a speed dating event, but if you come to think of it, who knows, you just might? And if not, at least you have practiced your skills in talking with women. You’ll have plenty of use for that in the real dating world where you really go hunting for girls. There’s nothing to lose.
This weekend, I invited Trisha for coffee. Let’s see how it goes.
* * * *
*Disclosure: Photos in this blog post were blurred and names as well as details of each person were changed to protect the privacy of the speed dating participants.